Friday, June 28, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 26

Well we are half way through the year already, and dare I say, it is a now a count-down to Christmas! And what better way to start my post than with this gorgeous smiling face. My little great-grandson Alfie ended the season as Star Player in his group. Needless to say he is proudly showing his trophy while wearing his Arsenal shirt!

Summer has well and truly arrived and it has been very hot this week, so I have done as little as possible all day. It is forecast to reach 35º this weekend, but at least we are spared the 40º expected further inland. Any work that needs doing, gets done at the start of the morning. One day this week we decided to clean the ceiling fan in our bedroom so we could start using it at night. I had to get Chris to help me as the only way to reach it is by standing on our bed which has a lovely memory foam mattress on it, and every time I stepped onto it, I fell over. So amid much giggling, with Chris trying to balance on the bed, and me shaking a duster out the window every few minutes, we did manage to get it done, so it is now much safer to turn on, and better for our breathing. (I must admit I was a bit horrified at the amount of dust that came off it).

Although the temperature stays quite high all night, it is quite pleasant to sit outside in the evenings, and we have had a couple of good evenings out. On Sunday we went to the hotel on a local golf resort, for a concert by an orchestra, made up of mainly English retired residents, who have come together to play their chosen instruments. They have a new musical director and he has really injected some new energy into their playing. It was an excellent concert. It wasn't really the right situation to jump up and down with a camera so I only managed to get this rather poor photo of them.

Afterwards we sat outside on a wide patio with nice sails for protection during the day. The view was lovely, looking out towards the hills, with the golfing greens and then the sea beyond them. Several of our friends were there so we sat and had a drink with some of them, and when the mozzies got too active, we moved into the lounge bar and sat with some other friends for more chatting. So all in all it was a very enjoyable evening.

On Wednesday we went to another concert, this time a choral one. There was a new choir started up last year in Vera, originally for anyone who wanted to sing. This gradually whittled down to a serious choir and this week was their inaugural concert. 
They sang in Vera Convento, originally a convent but now an art gallery/music venue, where I have sung with the previous choir I was in. There was a really good turnout, with late-comers sitting on a ledge around the wall, or standing at the back. We half expected this so we got there in good time and found two seats near the front. You can see Chris in his red T-shirt, and me peeping out around the man sitting in front of him.
The choir are concentrating on a more classical style of music, so the programme was mostly some grand sacred pieces, and some opera.
They are fortunate to have some members with good, strong voices and enough confidence to sing solos.
Barry, their musical director, is a great pianist, and he is passionate about music. His aim is to coach the choir to sing a grand masterpiece, starting with the first half of Handel's Messiah at Christmas. He plays the piano for them as they sing, and at the same time, directs them when to sing, etc. His enthusiasm is infectious, and I really admired what he has done with the choir in their first year. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

There was something I was going to show you from the garden and I almost left it too late to take a photo. A couple of years ago we re-potted our big palm into a large square pot, because it was constantly blowing over in its original round one. It was a difficult job as it is covered in spines, but the Spanish folk in the village all approved when they saw us doing it. Palms like this are very expensive at garden centres, so they are highly prized. Since then it has improved a lot, growing straighter and bigger. We have cut some of the lower fronds off as they died, but new ones come from the centre. A few weeks ago we saw a new crown just beginning to shoot. They go through a stage when they start to open up, when all the 'leaves' are tightly curled, and I think it looks lovely. However when I went to photograph this on Wednesday, I found they had already almost straightened out and are quite tall now. It is certainly quite a healthy plant.

I have managed to have my first dip in the pool this week. It is the first time I have felt well enough to get in, and I must say it was lovely. The water has warmed up to a pleasant 26º which is just perfect for me. I may well have another dip when I have finished writing this post.
I have also spent some time in my craft room, making a birthday card for my son who was 48 this week - gosh that makes me feel old! I also made a set of twenty-two Christmas cards. I told you we had started the count down! I enter at least one card in a challenge on 25th of each month, called Rudolph day. It is a good way to get a few Christmas cards ready before the last minute panic. This time I made a set all the same to give to my friends in the choir. It is very unlikely any of them will read this post so here they are.
I also made one more lot of cherry jam. I shopped in Lidls and they had the cherries on special offer so I thought I might as well get it done. As it was so hot in the kitchen I sat outside for the rather tedious job of pitting them all. Here is my work space, with a parasol for shade, a blue tooth speaker hanging from it for entertainment, a damp cloth for sticky fingers, and of course a lovely cup of tea. What a lovely way to spend the afternoon. Once pitted, the fruit was soon cooked and the jam made and bottled. I have sold most of the first set and I expect these will soon go too, but I shan't be making any more this season.

We have another fun night out tonight, but I will save that to start off next week's post. So for now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and I'll see you all again next week.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019: Week 25

Thank you to everyone who visited and left encouraging comments last week. It is always lovely to hear from you. I don't know whether everyone has the same problem with Blogger as I do, but I no longer get notifications when someone leaves a comment, so I have to remember to go to my dashboard and check for new ones. That is why it sometimes takes a while for them to appear under my post. However, I enjoy hearing from you, and they do get seen by the next week!

So, this week of course, started with our choir concert. It was up in Albox - roughly a forty minute drive from here, so Chris agreed to be my chauffeur as I don't like driving less familiar roads after dark. It was held in the function room of a small hotel, and the charity we were supporting did a good job of selling tickets, so the room was full.

We did two forty minute sessions, including some old favourites from our repertoire like a medley from Les Miserables, and some new pieces including Bohemian Rhapsody which was quite ambitious, but was very well received.

David is a very good MD and knows how to get the best out of us. I don't know how much money was raised but it must have been a good sum with a raffle and the ticket money. Generally we invite a charity to organise a concert - venue, advertising, tickets and a raffle if they want one, and we just turn up and sing for free. It usually works quite well, and we do one Friends and family concert each year for our own funds. This concert was for an organisation called AUAN who have worked tirelessly over the past decade to regularise the paper work for people whose houses were deemed to be illegal, despite them having the correct paperwork! - and therefore freeing them from the fear of having their homes demolished. It has been a worrying time for so many people, but this organisation have managed to find a path through the bureaucracy, and are beginning to see the results now. They have to meet huge legal costs so we were happy to help them raise some much needed cash.

Since then the week has flown past. I did manage to get to the market on Tuesday, and I found the local cherries were down in price a little, so I bought two  and a half kilos to make some jam. The girl knocked an extra 30 cents per kilo off because I was buying a lot, so yesterday I made a dozen jars of jam. Half them are 'sold' on order all ready so I may make one more lot, but I'll wait until nearer the end of their season and see if they get even cheaper.
Of course the worst part is removing all the pips. It takes quite a while to stone that many cherries and it can get messy, but the jam is lovely so it was worth the effort.

I don't know is any of you also follow Virginia's blog called Rocking Your World, which I also link this post to along with Annie's Friday Smiles. Well last week, Virginia posted a picture of a plant that lives in her bathroom, and it suddenly shot up a long stem that eventually had a fairly insignificant little flower on it. Well I have one just the same (not the same plant, but the same behaviour).

Mine is a cactus and I thought I'd share it here. It sits by our window and the stem has been stretching up for several weeks. I watched with interest as buds started to form, but I needed to get right in close to see the tiny flowers when they finally opened. Its very pretty but you do have to look closely to appreciate it!

Chris and I each have our own space, mainly because we each have so much equipment, materials etc that we would need a barn to both fit in it. Also we like to listen to different music while we work etc, so this arrangements works for both of us. I have my craft room, and Chris has his 'office'. We both work in semi-chaos, but we nearly always know where things are. Chris has his computer desk and a second table under the window. He chooses to keep his blind down through the summer, but the windows open, and the cats have discovered this is a cool place to spend the morning. I was surprised to see both Charlie and Tango quite happily sharing the space this week, but when Paco jumped up there and saw the competition, he decided "two's company but three's a crowd", and promptly made off to find a different place to rest in.

This morning my computer decided to throw a wobbly, and after closing itself down, it refused to open again. So I am very grateful for a techie-minded husband who managed to get it up and running for me again.

And now for my Ta-dah moment. My blanket is finished. I love it, and my son does too. He saw it in progress when he came over on holiday last month. Another son, Ben, is coming over in July and he is hoping to be able to take it back for Jonathan. So here it is.
The pattern was called Early American inspired afghan, and the patterns all have their own symbolism so the designer, Lissa Conley, gave us this picture to explain what each section represents.
There was the option to have the wolves both facing to the right, or facing each other and I chose the second option. It was also my choice to use two alternative colours, with black as my main colour, and then I decided to use yellow for the moons. That was almost my undoing as it turned out to be quite a hassle, but I am glad I persevered with it. I am also glad that I managed, by sitting under the fan and doing a few rows each night, to finish it, as the weather is now very hot, in the mid-thirties by day, and I couldn't manage such a big, heavy piece of work for much longer. I shall be looking for small and simple items to work on now until the autumn.
I thought it had been hanging around for a while, and the dog has drooled on it, and the cats have sat on it, so since taking the above photo, I put it inside a single duvet cover and washed it in the machine on a gentle program. It came up really well, so fresh and bright, and I was able to pull it into shape and leave it to dry, so now it is all ready to parcel up for Ben to take back to its new home.

So now I just have two more photos of the night sky to share. Chris found the app on his phone and we were able to confirm that the planet I could see was in fact Jupiter. It was still visible this week, though a little lower in the sky so I took another photo of it. I don't know where the green came from?
As it was so big and bright, I also took another one of the full moon which turned out rather well.
So now I will link up with Annie's Friday Smiles, and Rocking Your World. Have a good weekend everyone.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 24

Well here we are again, and I am glad to say I feel considerably better than I did last week. I still have a rather raw throat, which is a pain as I am singing in a choir concert tomorrow night, but as there are only four of us altos who can be there, I need to do my bit. But I feel better in myself, probably because I have stopped all the tablets, so I have tried to get a few things done this week. 

I knew I wouldn't be in church again on Sunday, so on Saturday I asked Chris to run me over to a friends house with some papers I wanted her to take for me. When we left her, Chris suggested we stopped off for some lunch before going home. I wasn't up for eating much, so I only had a snack and some rice pudding which features on every menu in Spain! But Chris had a good lunch which made up for some of the scrappy meals we have had while I was unwell. We sat outside on a shady balcony and from where I was sitting the scenery was beautiful. 

Chris is looking a bit grim, but he didn't know he was in my photo! You can just glimpse the Cabrera mountains between the olive trees, which this week have mostly been capped with light clouds. The red and yellow flowers in the foreground are lantana. They are often referred to as the Spanish flag flower because they have tiny yellow heads in the centre, and fiery orange/red ones around the edge. They are very attractive and make a good display, but they are aggressive growers and soon take over if not kept in check.
Here you can see some in our own little patch of garden. They are in urgent need of cutting back, but I am afraid neither of us have been up to doing much gardening this year. I took the photo really for the rose of course. I wanted to show it to my friend who bought me the plant when I was so poorly early in 2018. It was slow to get started, but this year it has been lovely.
I stayed at home again for the rest of the weekend and all day Monday, but on Tuesday I went to my friends house because it was the last meeting of our house group before we stop for the summer, and we were following it with a bring-and-share lunch, so I didn't want to miss it. We had a very good discussion for our second look at the Book of Revelations, and then the cool-bags were opened and food spread all around the kitchen. This is just some of it, and it was only for ten people! A lunch fit for a king.
My friend's house has a good size fly-free area, similar to ours, with a dining table in it, and we sat there to enjoy the food and have a good chat together. We usually have a couple more men in the group but they were unable to attend.
Most activities come to a stop now, as many folk who find the heat too much, return to UK for the summer. others are busy with family and visitors, and it's hard to find times for everyone to meet.

I saw this lovely photo of Mojacar on a tourism page recently. The pueblo sits on top of a hill and we can see it from miles away. The views from the top are great and we always think of it as being so high up, but when you see it like this, it is dwarfed by the Cabrera mountains behind it. Beyond the village, Mojacar Playa (beach) stretches for several kilometers, part sandy and part rocky, and very lovely.
The yellow flowers in the foreground are oxalis which grow wild everywhere around here, and usually bloom from March to May.
And now for a couple of memes that I spotted. The first is bit mean to all the lovely dads out there, but it made me smile.
I'd be the first to admit I have on occasion messaged my sons or grandees to explain what their abbrviations stand for, so this one gave me a chuckle too.
On occasion I have managed to take a fairly decent photo of the full moon with my little camera. I would have loved to take photography more seriously, but I left it too late to get started, and now I simply can't carry the equipment, and my hands are not steady enough to go without a tripod. But a couple of nights ago I took my rubbish out to the bin and noticed one very bright 'star'. There was about a half moon behind me, but this one spot was shining so brightly and Chris said it was a planet, not a star. Well, of course I wanted to get a photo. My efforts at taking stars before have failed. All you get it a distorted flash of light. But I tried anyway and this is what I got.
Nothing startling I know, but considering all I have is a little point and shoot camera with a fairly good zoom, I thought it was good enough. It shows it is certainly a planet, and from what I have read it is probably Jupiter.
Apparently last night we had a big thunder storm. Chris asked me if I had heard it but I slept right through it! We actually had some rain with it, though not enough to raise the reservoir levels I don't think. This morning the sky is blue again, but it smells fresh outside, and everything is sparkling.
And with that I will link up with Virginia on Rocking Your World, and Annie's Friday Smiles.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Rocking Your World 2019; Week 23

Here we are at Friday again, and looking at what has rocked our world this week. I must say my world has rocked a bit more than I would have liked, but I had a lovely day on Saturday.
Although we do have a full time, 'employed' vicar for our three-church Chaplaincy, he is ably assisted by a lovely man who is around 76 years old I think, so is, of course, retired.  But he is in no way ready to hang up his gowns. He still feels called to work for us, and takes the service at which ever church does not have the vicar that week. His name is Canon Alan Bennett, (Father Alan to us) and he is greatly loved by us all.

On Saturday we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination. Held at our church as we have the better facilities for large groups, (there were over 80 people there),  we started with a Eucharist led by Father Alan, and he told us a little of his early beginnings in the church, and his life in the ministry. We raised the roof singing some golden oldie hymns, and then a small group of 'barber-shop singers sang a song written by one member for the occasion. We followed this with a community, bring-and-share lunch, and as usual the tables were weighed down under plates of tempting food. It was very hot so many folk chose to eat inside the church, which had been quickly cleared and set out with trestle tables and chairs. We couldn't all fit in there so the rest of us braved the sunny patio, but we did have plenty of parasols up to shade us a bit.

We were given a fun quiz to occupy us while we waited for the food table to be ready. All the questions related to 1969, the year of Father Alan's ordination, but we were all too busy chatting with friends to make a real effort to fill it in.

One lady had made a beautiful cake which Father Alan cut, and we all had a piece with a glass of cava to raise a toast.

He may be older than many serving priests, but Father Alan is the most modern and forward looking one I have met. He has a huge heart and loves all mankind equally, and I guess that why we all love him so much. It was a privilege to share his special day, and as you can probably see, he loved every minute of it.
Here are just some of the photos taken on the day, which really need no captions.

I was recently appointed as Environmental Officer for the Chaplaincy, and as it seemed the most pressing, and also the most straightforward issue, I made my first objective to improve our recycling of waste. Most folk are quite happy to do this, though not everywhere is as well serviced with recycling bins as we are in our village, but many do not actually know what goes in each bin. So a couple of weeks ago I made a two page pamphlet explaining it all and it has been very well received, with many people telling me they had learned new things from it.
So on Saturday I set up a recycling table and everyone was happy to sort their own rubbish into glass, paper, plastic etc, with a crate for the items that had to be washed up. This saved a bottle neck at our cramped kitchen door, as everyone used to take their own dishes to the sink. It all worked very well, and made the clearing up much easier. The sharper eyed among you may have noted the large plastic bottles of water on our tables. Unfortunately only the minority of homes have drinking water on tap, but drinking plenty of it is essential as temperatures rise, so bottled water is inevitable. But at least I ensured the bottles were recycled!

In a mad moment I offered to take home all the extra 'loaned' tea-towels to wash and bring back the next day, and within a couple of hours of returning home they were washed, dried and folded. Unfortunately, just after that I started to feel unwell, and before long I was burning up one minute and shivering in a blanket the next. I first I thought I'd had too much sun, but I soon realised it was something more, and by the next morning I had a raging sore throat, and painful ears and head, plus a racking cough. And that was the end of my week. I have not left the house so far, except for a brief visit to the doctor. I am now on antibiotics and a strong cocktail of analgesics so every time I sit down, I fall asleep! They are beginning to take effect, and I am now sitting up in the sitting room for most of the day, though still dozing off at the drop of a hat. I have lived off yoghurt and porridge, but I did manage some soup today, and hopefully by the end of the weekend I will be over the worst of it. Chris is insisting I am sensible and rest until the course of tablets is finished on Tuesday, and anyway I don't think I am safe behind a wheel until the 'sleepy pills' are reduced. So the clean tea-towels sit in my hall for a friend to collect and take to church on Sunday. I shall be sorry to miss the service as there will be a special memorial for a dear friend who passed away on Monday. He and his wife returned to live in UK for health reasons at the start of the year, but he was a lovely man with a great, dry sense of humour, and we are all sad to hear he has gone. Not a good week for such sad news, but he wouldn't want us to mope. I know they are going to sing his favourite hymn - How Great Thou Art - on Sunday, and he would have liked that.

I have managed to read a few books on my Kindle as I sit in my chair this week. At least with Kindle it remembers what page I have read, so when I doze off it doesn't lose my place! I was rarely left alone, as there was always one or two of my furry friends to keep me company. Tango has decided he likes the end of the settee, and Kim is reluctant to get up while he is there. Paco is being a bit naughty because they are not allowed on the table, but I hadn't got the energy to make him get down!

Charlie looks more alert, but he is also about to sleep again. It's not bad this cat's life!
So please forgive me if I didn't visit you this week. Fortunately I did get to most folk on Friday evening, but since then I haven't sat at my computer until today. Thank you to those who left comments for me. I read them on my phone but I am no good at doing anything else on it, so I have only just published them, but I appreciate them all the same.

I will now link up with Annie's Friday Smiles and Rocking Your World, and leave you with one more picture of this lovely smiling face.